Storm door makeover

Earlier this summer we restored the original front door on our century home. It was a lot of work (you can read about it here). The next step was for us to makeover the storm door. The previous owner had had it custom made (the door opening is not a standard size) about 20 years ago, but the lacquer was peeling and we felt that a door that was completely glass (as opposed to a half glass/half wood panel door) would look better on the house. We also wanted to paint the storm door to match the front door and the new lighting fixtures we recently installed. 

Storm door before and after photos

Preparing the door

Once we had removed the door from its hinges and cleaned it off, the first thing we did was use a jigsaw to cut out the wood panels on the bottom of the door. We wanted to keep the door frame intact so this was the first somewhat tense part of this nerve-wracking project. The next step was to remove the trim which surrounded the glass opening (the window could be changed out for a screen). We used a chisel and hammer to slowly separate the trim from the door frame. This was also somewhat tense because it was important not to damage the frame while removing these pieces that were glued in place. Thankfully, we were able to do this without causing too much damage to the door frame.

damage on the storm door
Damage on the storm door

This left us with just the original door frame. I removed all of the remaining pin nails and used Citristrip to remove the original finish. I had to apply two separate coats, but it was mostly successful at removing the finish. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I really like this product because it is effective and doesn’t smell too badly. You just apply a thick coat with a brush, let it set for an hour, and then scrape it off with a plastic paint scraper. We then sanded down the door using our orbital sander to ensure that all of the original finish was removed and to ensure the surface was even and smooth. This process had to be completed on both sides of the door and was somewhat time consuming. This left us with a nice blank slate from which to work.

The door makeover

Once the door was stripped down, we were able to determine the exact measurement of the glass piece needed (it ended up being 70” x 30.25”). We calculated a ¼-inch gap on each side to allow space for the wood to expand and contract. This project was the first time we worked with glass so we were a bit nervous. We contacted a local glass company and they recommended that we use ¼-inch laminate glass.

Because the depth of the door frame was 1 ¼-inches, this allowed us to add a ½-inch stop on either side of the glass to hold it into place (we cut 1″ x 3″ red oak boards to size). We added the stop to one side with wood glue and pin nails and allowed it to set overnight. Then, we put the glass into place and added the stop to the other side (also using wood glue and pin nails) to hold the glass in place.

Once the stops were securely in place, we breathed a sigh of relief that they appeared strong and secure (even though the piece of glass was quite heavy). We both had a slight fear that we would find the stops had failed and the glass had fallen out and shattered. Thankfully, this didn’t happen. In order to add more style and to cover the seam between the door frame and the stops, we added decorative molding. With the molding attached on both sides, all that was left was to paint the door. We primed it and painted it using the same materials that were used on the front door. I wasn’t pleased with the finished paint job; my brush strokes are extremely pronounced. So, I may sand it and repaint it with another paint in the near future.

Tools needed

  1. Jigsaw
  2. Chisel
  3. Hammer
  4. Citristrip
  5. Paint brush
  6. Paint scraper
  7. Orbital sander
  8. Wood glue
  9. Nail gun and pin nails
  10. Primer
  11. Paint brushes 
  12. Exterior paint

The finished project

The finished project
The finished project

Once the paint dried we re-hung the door. I feel that the black color is a significant improvement that contrasts nicely with our light grey siding. I also think that having a full-glass door allows the original front door to be more of a feature. The next step is to have the window boxes and shutters painted to match.

What do you think? Have you ever worked with glass?

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